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By: Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Prodigal Children in the House of G-d

Pages: 179 Ratings: 5.0
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Prodigal Children in the House of G-d explores themes of family, community, and exile largely from ultra-Orthodox Jewish and/or queer perspectives. Eschewing references to specific locations, the stories vibrate in a mysterious present steeped in connections to a past that threatens to overwhelm. The protagonists navigate religious tradition as they take steps to reshape their lives in startling ways, often at great personal risk.

An elderly woman living alone remembers a long-ago love. A holiday abroad changes the lives of a mother and daughter forever. In the concluding story, a married Torah scholar encounters romance in an unexpected quarter. A note on transliteration and pronunciation and a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms appear at the end of the book. The book includes two pairs of interlocking stories. The author of six volumes of poetry, Yermiyahu Ahron Taub brings a quiet lyricism to his debut collection of short stories.

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of six books of poetry, including A moyz tsvishn vakldike volkn-kratsers: geklibene Yidishe lider/A Mouse Among Tottering Skyscrapers: Selected Yiddish Poems (2017). Tsugreytndik zikh tsu tantsn: naye Yidishe lider/Preparing to Dance: New Yiddish songs, a CD of nine of his Yiddish poems set to music was released on the Multikulti Project label (www.multikulti.com) in 2014.

Taub was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York’s best emerging Jewish artists and has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net Award. With Ellen Cassedy, he is the recipient of the 2012 Yiddish Book Center Translation Prize for Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories by Blume Lempel (Mandel Vilar Press and Dryad Press, 2016). Please visit his website at www.yataub.net.

Customer Reviews
5.0
7 reviews
7 reviews
  • Evan Fallenberg, author of The Parting Gift

    Yermiyahu Ahron Taub's collection, Prodigal Children in the House of G-d, is cleaved down the middle—five stories of daughters, five of sons—then sewn together by the stories themselves, which intertwine in surprising and delightful ways as characters jump from story to story and get bruised or healed in the process. Taub is a brave, exacting, and large-hearted writer who cares deeply about his characters as they question the lives they have inherited or chosen, and he passes no judgment on saints and sinners alike. Whether their ghetto is ultra-Orthodox, gay or small-town America, Taub's characters are on quests that stretch over lifetimes and are riveting to watch.

  • Nora Gold, author of The Dead Man, Fields of Exile, and Marrow; and Editor of Jewish Fiction .net

    Not all poets can also write prose, but Yermiyahu Ahron Taub certainly can. In a mere dozen pages or so, his story “Lettering and the Art of Living” succeeds in capturing a woman’s entire lifetime, and by evoking many of her memories, feelings, and even her historical context, he awards dignity to this humble individual’s solitary, not fully-lived life. “Lettering and the Art of Living,” infused with a poet’s sensibility and sensitivity, is an accomplished and moving story.”

  • Daniel M. Jaffe, author of The Genealogy of Understanding and Jewish Gentle and Other Stories of Gay-Jewish Living

    Each story in Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s Prodigal Children in the House of G-d renders an elegant portrait of a lonely soul confronting demands of ultra-Orthodox or other conservative tradition. Simmering with inner resistance, these characters—lesbian, hetero, gay—struggle to shape their birthrights on their own terms. Taub offers a wealth of sensitive insights into the minds and hearts rarely depicted on the page.

  • Margaret Meyers, author of Dislocation

    Taub's story collection addresses the gaps in understanding and faith between parents and children in a vivid, tender, and bittersweet way. People, mostly young, find themselves suddenly at odds with their previous reality, often through no fault of their own, suffering the painful fallout from what Heinrich von Kleist called "the imperfection inherent in the order of the world." And yet Taub's characters bring a quiet courage to their situations: the mother of a banished gay son reconnects with him before his death, a girl whose rabbi father has viciously dismembered her Barbies is comforted by her brother, a young girl dreams the impossible dream of becoming a scholar of the Torah. These stories are grounded in fine detail from the fussy furnishings of a boarding house to a polka-dotted half-veil hat that begins a deep friendship. This collection is at once elegiac and edgy, wise and witty, and I am certain this will be the most rewarding story collection I will read this year.

  • Lesléa Newman, author of A Letter to Harvey Milk

    Prodigal Children in the House of G-d is a beautifully written, finely detailed, big-hearted, generous, intimate story collection full of fascinating daughters and sons who will stay with this reader for a long time to come. Make yourself a big pot of tea, sink down into a comfortable chair, and turn off all your devices. This is a book to spend time with, pay attention to, savour, and enjoy.

  • Aryeh Lev Stollman, author of The Far Euphrates and The Illuminated Soul

    The prodigal children in Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s elegant and lovely new collection are each—to paraphrase a famous Talmudic dictum—a fully individual and necessary world. They are also worlds in exile, finding dignity in often modest but gratefully free lives achieved at an enormous cost. As we come to know more and more of them, they form a universe that moves us to the core. Though Taub’s background may make us assume the influence of the great Yiddish writers, his characters seem more like those in the works of Mavis Gallant or Virginia Woolf had they been born into a different tradition.

  • Amanda Seigel, Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library

    This collection of short stories is the first full-length prose book by Taub, a multilingual (Yiddish, Hebrew, English) poet, translator, and author. Taub’s stories focus on the inner life and close relationships of characters around themes of Orthodox Judaism and queer identity. Taub creates intimate portraits with meticulous attention to language, seamlessly integrating a deep knowledge of Yiddish and Yiddishkayt in a way that one seldom finds in contemporary fiction. The book’s two sections, “Daughters” and “Sons”, include unforgettable characters that interact across the stories and cross boundaries in unexpected ways. Night in the solarium describes a prim boarding-house owner and her impressions of her boarders; while Phoenix, with hat is about Khane, a lonely and secretive soul who seeks refuge in the boarding house. In Called away in the spirit, Silas is a young gay Christian man from a small town who goes to the city, while Angel of the underworld is the story of Meyer, a young, married gay Hasid who finds romance with Silas, thus experiencing a revelation that “the duality in which he had lived all of his adult life had somehow taken a turn ...” With this beautiful, thoughtful and poetic unification of dualities, Taub illuminates complex lives and gives voice to his original characters. Recommended.

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